Field Update: Nov. 26, 2010

Today is the day we break camp and move from Site #1 to Site #2. While Graham and I were out surveying yesterday, the rest of the team was preparing for the move by packing up any loose items and bringing things down to floor level so that they won’t fall down while being towed to the next camp location. This is a major activity involving everyone, so we have our morning meeting and get ready to start the process of moving. Tents have to come down, containers have to be separated, frozen food has to be dug up out of the snow and put onto sledges for transport, and a hundred other things need to be accomplished in short order. The weather is still threatening off to the north, but there’s no snow yet. We’ll leave the weather station here with the summer GPS station to keep recording and collecting data at this site. We’ll also be leaving behind the mooring, with two tripods being the only indication that all of these instruments are hanging down through the ice and into the ocean below. The MECC has already been moved off into the distance and now it’s time for the other containers to go.

Once they are all moved off and prepared in lines for the traverse, then the oceanographers will connect the final cables to the surface computer that controls the data capture and communicates with the instruments below in the ice shelf cavity. We’ve put in lots of flags to mark the location of these sites and we’ll put in more once the final containers are moved away.

The camp move involves lots of shoveling and plowing snow out of the way.

As one job ends, another begins – we are dismantling all parts of the camp, piece by piece, and container by container - still several more hours to go.

The office and workshop containers pull away, then the Galley, Mess and linkway, as well as the berthing containers, with all the doorways open.

Then it’s time for the hot water drill system containers, as it begins to snow.

The containers are getting lined up behind the two D6 tractors, ready to go. The first tractor train sets off for Site #2, with the second following closely.

The Hagglund and the Pisten Bully load up with cargo and bring up the rear, following the 10 km route southward behind the tractors to the new camp.

Once we reach the new camp, the reverse of the previous operation begins and the camp gets set up as quickly, if not quicker, than it was torn down. The hot water drill is reassembled, the living areas are pushed together, and the sledge line is established off to the west of the main camp. By evening the weather has cleared up and the black clouds we saw for the past two days are off to the east and away from our camp. The sun is shining again.

It’s pretty amazing to watch this move happen and think about how much we accomplished today. JR and Tristan have towed the two container trains behind the D6 tractors. Hedley has disassembled and assembled all of the electrical connections, reestablished the fresh water supply, and connected the drains to the sinks in the Galley. The new outhouse is ready, with new holes drilled into the ice with the Jiffy drill, and the entire area has been groomed for the tents that will spring up in another day. We settle down to a well-deserved rest knowing we have another hole to melt at this location and another oceanographic mooring to establish in the days ahead.

But that’s for tomorrow, right now we’ll just enjoy our new location, have a good dinner, and off to bed. It’s another day in the life of the ANDRILL Coulman High camp, sitting out on the Ross Ice Shelf!

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